Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Boyhood

Release date: July 18, 2014
Running time: 166 minutes
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Lorelei Linklater
Who to see it with: Anyone who has had a childhood


I tried to think of something that I've done that's taken 12 years. I originally thought of my education, but despite many, many years in college, it doesn't cross the 12 year mark. The closest thing would be my longest (and essentially only) relationship, but even that hasn't quite lasted a dozen years. What director Richard Linklator has done is nothing short of astounding; dedicating himself to filming a family for this period of time. This allows the audience to watch Mason (Coltrane) literally grow before their eyes from ages 5 to 18. You get to see young Mason go through school, move to a new city, experience puberty, have dreams and expectations, and experience hardship; basically, the audience gets the opportunity to watch him experience life. And as Mason grows, so does the cast around him: his sister, his mother, his father, and some special people throughout his "life."

Additionally, the film acts as a sort of time capsule, authentically reminding you of past periods as the story progresses. Cell phones become more modern, musical tastes change, the internet becomes more prevalent; essentially everything that movies try to do to capture a specific period in time is done perfectly because of the unique situation of this film. 

If there is one criticism of Boyhood, it's that there aren't many overly dramatic moments. Life has highs and lows, and so does this movie, but nothing really earth shattering happens to young Mason or his family. I guess the director wanted to simply focus on the intricacies of life, the subtle changes that happen as we grow up, or maybe Linklater wanted to portray a more normal, non-Hollywood life. Either way, I kept expecting a tectonic shift to occur that never did. However, I can't fault the movie for realistically portraying life when that is the point of the film.

Boyhood is a masterpiece due to the dedication and care that Linklater takes to craft this experience. Just thinking about the risk that the director took for this project blows my mind: what if one of the actors quit acting or died, what if Coltrane ended up being a poor actor years later, what if any number of things happened in the intervening 12 years? However, all great art carries with it inherent risks, and like all great risks, the potential payout is immense. 

See it.

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